To the dismay of survivalists everywhere, Glenn Beck announced last week that his screechy, preachy Fox news show would close up shop before the end of the year. Though Beck’s eponymous television program averages over two million viewers each weekday, his ongoing disputes with Fox and widely reported tendency to scare away advertisers are rumored to have led to his exit.
This is Glenn Beck’s “I’m thinking really hard about art” face. / Patrcik McMullan Company
This is Glenn Beck’s “I’m thinking really hard about art” face.
As we look back on the wild ride that has been the Glenn Beck show, we are trying not to obsess too much about his manic claim that the Obama administration is a hotbed of anti-Semitism or his theory that only hookers use Planned Parenthood. For those of us here at ARTINFO, those things are simply distractions from Beck’s enduring legacy as an art critic.
Like any good critic — formalist, Marxist, feminist, structuralist, and so on — Beck chooses one specific lens through which to analyze art. This unlikely but crusading art scholar has fought tirelessly to uncover the hidden communist and otherwise dangerously propagandistic messages in America’s artwork — heroically oblivious to whether or not such messages actually exist. So, before Beck takes his final bow as Fox host, ARTINFO decided to take a walk down memory lane and reprise the top four moments in Beck art criticism.
1. The Great Christmas Ornament-Gate of ’09, and ’11
Beck used his formal analysis skills to uncover a shocking fact: an ornament on the official White House Christmas tree actually contained a coded admission of President Obama’s communist sympathies. The offending ornament, originally hung during the winter of 2009, pictured a copy of Andy Warhol’s famous silkscreen “Mao.” According to Beck, the communist leader’s presence on the tree was a secret little wink at all his comrades over there in China. (One can only imagine Beck’s fantasy of Obama, frantically pacing the Oval Office in a Mao suit, muttering to himself, “If I can’t prevent Christmas from coming, I must personally pick out each and every ornament on my Christmas tree! Then I will use them all to show my brethren what I really believe!”) In reality, the little Mao was probably sent by one of the hundreds of community groups that contribute ornaments to the White House every year. But that didn’t stop Beck from digging up the controversy again in January of this year, when he used it as background for his claim that Chinese pianist Lang Lang’s state dinner performance subtly insulted America. (Lang performed a patriotic Chinese anthem in honor of Chinese President Hu Jintao.) While Beck shows a clear mastery of Marxist symbolism, we’re surprised he didn’t dwell longer on the real scandal of the Obama Christmas tree: Everyone knows that Obama is a Muslim.
2. The Washington Monument, the Great Symbol of Race Relations
At August’s massive “Restoring Honor” rally in Washington, Glenn Beck revealed himself to be not only a canny art critic, but also something of an architectural historian. The rally, fronted by Beck and timed to coincide with the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech, aimed to invigorate the Tea Party movement. But Beck, ever the educator, also offered participants a bit of architectural history free of charge. Standing in front of the Washington Monument, Beck pointed out the “scar” on the obelisk, which, he said, marked where construction was halted during the Civil War.
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